Tampa Bay Rays bullpen catcher, Jean Ramirez, has died at age 28, the club announced on Tuesday evening. According to the Tarrant County (Texas) Medical Examiner's Office, Ramirez's cause of death was suicide.
Ramirez's family released a statement through the club (via the Tampa Bay Times):
The loss of our son has been the most excruciating experience we have lived. Unfortunately, we sometimes don't see the signs. Struggling in silence is not OK.
It is our commitment to honor our son's life by helping other families. No parent should have to endure the loss of their child.
We are very grateful to the Tampa Bay Rays organization, whom we consider our family, for their love and support. Our son felt loved by all of you.
Thank you to our family, friends and everyone else far and near for the outpouring of love and support.
God bless you! Rays Up in Heaven.
"We extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to Jean's family," Rays president Erik Neander said in a statement. "He was a caring teammate and friend. He exuded so much joy in all he did, and his kind heart was truly a gift to all. As we process this unexpected and difficult loss, we are grateful for the times we shared with Jean."
"Jean was an incredible teammate and friend," Rays manager Kevin Cash said in a statement. "He brought so much passion and energy each day to our clubhouse and bullpen, and his love for the Rays and baseball was evident to all who interacted with him. He had the biggest heart and most infectious smile. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends. Jean will be deeply missed."
Ramirez was born in Puerto Rico and then went to high school in Fort Worth, Texas (Boswell HS). He started out in college ball with the University of Arkansas but ended up graduating from Illinois State. After his career at ISU, he was drafted in the 28th round by the Rays.
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In rookie ball and Low-A, Ramirez didn't find much success at the plate, but he was impressive enough behind the plate -- notably, unsurprisingly, in working with pitchers in the bullpen -- that he rose the ranks as a bullpen catcher. He spent the past three seasons with the Rays in that role, which is technically an assistant coaching role.
If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.